New research shows that women could achieve equal representation in the world's parliaments in less than 20 years if the current rate of progress is maintained, but they've hit the glass ceiling in getting to be president or prime minister.

The Women in Politics Map 2014, launched Tuesday by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, showed the number of women parliamentarians at a record 21.8 per cent following a 1.5 per cent increase in the past year.

IPU Secretary-General Anders Johnsson said 10 years ago he was predicting that even his children would never see gender parity in parliaments because progress was so slow. But if the 1.5 per cent rate can be sustained "we would reach gender equality, gender parity, in parliaments globally less than 20 years from now," he said.